Monihei Carnival of the Wa Ethnic Group in Yunnan

The “Monihei Carnival” (making you black) is a mud smearing carnival of the Wa ethnic group. It is originated from the folk custom that people smear the pot ash, ox blood and mud on their faces to frighten the evils and seek peace. The Monihei Carnival is held in late April or early May each year in Cangyuan County, one of the only two Chinese Wa autonomous Counties in southwest China’s Yunnan Province.

Monihei Carnival of the Wa Ethnic Group in Yunnan-1

Wa is an age-old and mysterious minority, and the people there have worked hard for more than 3,000 years and have created its unique glorious culture. Monihei comes from the Wa language, which means “this is what we have pursued and expected, and we will stick to it till forever”. Wa is a nationality which values spiritual life more than material life. Wa people are always optimistic and light-hearted, enjoying singing and dancing in their spare time. They believe that life comes only once; people have to face the same samsara regardless whether they are poor or rich. Therefore, people must cherish their life and live happily. This is Monihei, the Wa language translation.

Monihei Carnival of the Wa Ethnic Group in Yunnan-2

Nowadays people use a natural plant called “Niang Bu Luo” to smear onto each other and pray for each other. Wa’s traditional view is that it will bring people blessings by smearing the magical “Niang Bu Luo” onto people’s face or body. Traditional magic “Niang Bu Luo” is made of the pot ash, ox blood and mud, etc. Now, it is made of fragrant mud with a natural plant, and it said to have the efficacy of anti-suntan and skin care and improving your looks. And a more interesting saying goes that chocolate is also one of the ingredients. Anyway, it makes your face feel fragrant and smooth after applying this magical yet natural cream.

Monihei Carnival of the Wa Ethnic Group in Yunnan-3

Wa people’s traditional view is that: “When applying on a girl’s face, we hope the girl is getting more beautiful; when applying on an old man’s face, we wish the old good health and a long life; when applying on a kid’s face, we hope the kid is safe and lucky; when applying on a friend’s face, we look forward to Auld Lang Syne”. It is the true meaning of life for Wa people to long for a better future, pray for peace and luck, and seek happiness

Monihei Carnival of the Wa Ethnic Group in Yunnan-4

As a traditional custom of the minorities in China, the “Monihei Carnival” has attracted a lot of tourists both from home and abroad. Black is auspicious color of Wa people. The costume is usually black-based in Wa villages and Wa women even color their teeth to black with a special coating every three days. During the Carnival, the “blacker” you look, the more beautiful you are. Try to be the “blackest” one!

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